1929 McDowell Mfg. Co., No.55 "Mac" Mystery Gun in Original Box

1929 McDowell Mfg. Co., No.55

Absolutely awesome lithographed steel, wind-up circular toy based on a WWI aerial bombardment theme. Huge 13½" diameter plate-like toy complete with all original parts (four monoplanes, wind-up cord, and steel ball bearings). Toy looks like it was hardly used if at all. It comes complete with one of the most beautifully illustrated boxes I've seen. 

Fantastic and very clever toy it features a large pizza-pan sized lithographed WWI coastal scene. The details are like nothing I've seen before. Against a multicolored gold, blue and purple sunrise it shows a fleet of red and yellow naval vessels at anchor. Several ships off in the distance steam along the horizon. Closer to land it shows a small harbor with two large ships and sailboats. A large seaside town lies at the edge of the harbor. Multiple rows of houses, large buildings and the local church steeple can be seen. Farther up the hill, away from the town, lies our fortified defenses. In a clearing beyond the woods, protected by a stone wall, two ack-ack guns fire on the approaching enemy monoplanes. It's interesting to note that the ground forces include both American (on the left) and French (on the right) soldiers. 

Four different color monoplanes are placed onto holes located in the "sky". Each has a different point value. The planes have an upper and lower fuselage with a ball bearing trapped between them. The ball makes contact with the surface, not the plane. The planes are placed over the sky holes. Two small feet on the back of the plate tilt it up just slightly. "Hit" a plane and it rolls down into the sea.

At the bottom of the field (between the Americans and French) lies the Mystery Gun. Covered with green lithographed plating, the player sees only a steel rod with a needle-like hole protruding from the center. The rod spins freely on internal ball bearings. The toy works along the same lines as the old time skittle games. Using a length of cord with wooden pull bead, a quick pull starts the "gun" spinning. Ball bearings (ammunition) are fed into the inlet hole marked "raceway".  As the ball enters it gets caught in the spinning gun and is fired with great force through the outlet on the other side. It travels along the perimeter until it hits one of the monoplanes. Once the ammo strikes a plane it drops down to the center of the toy and is captured in a second inlet and out of play. A single shot can be repeated over and over for as long as the gun continues to spin, or until it drops to the center. Each player gets five turns. Each turn uses four balls; 20 in all, but only four are needed to play. You can get a better appreciation for the condition of the toy when you consider how it's played!

The box for the Mystery Gun is just as amazing as the toy itself. It features a large detailed, color illustration. It was drawn and shaded in an art deco style used for many WWI military posters. It depicts a night scene with five French soldiers manning their ground gun. Searchlights try to locate the enemy forces. This time a zeppelin is also shown. The town below is darkened. All of the windows are shut closed so their position isn't given away. The defending soldiers look skyward as they fire against the air forces above them. This illustration is centered in a church like window shape. The name of the toy, manufacture name, address, and logo are also shown. Side aprons have a repeating geometric design with the toy name printed above it. 

McDowell Manufacturing Company was a small manufacturer of simple, yet high quality steel litho toys. Located in Pittsburgh, PA. they had a short life-span. Started in the late 1920's the company met an early demise with the onset of the Great Depression. 

Size: 13½" diameter. Box 14" square x 2" deep.

Sold: Oct. 2006

Price Sold: $ 638


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Subject: 1929 McDowell Mfg. Co., No.55 "Mac" Mystery Gun in Original Box

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